Although remote work is lauded for many of its perks, it can still pose a few challenges for both the employer and the employee. Considering that a significant portion of the modern day’s workforce has already switched to telecommuting, building a digital nomad lifestyle, or at least some form of flexible remote work, it’s vital that those challenges are addressed before they escalate.
No matter what industry you work in and where your remote teams may be, there are useful methods you can use to maximize productivity, cut costs, and make the most of your flexible work environment.
Organize regular get-togethers
The fact that you do have remote employees doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your employees work remotely. If you already spend time with some of them on a daily basis, engaging in meetings, chatting through Skype, or setting up those Friday open door sessions, you need to find a way to include your remote employees in a similar manner.
If you work with someone who lives on a different continent, strive to meet once per year in person to bond, talk, and engage. For team members who are located relatively close, you can organize more frequent one-on-ones to build trust and loyalty and to clarify your goals and expectations.
Use desktop apps to track work
Distractions are everywhere, and without an office environment to inspire an employee to put their best foot forward, chances are they will procrastinate. However, you can make sure that you have the ability to oversee their input with the help of time tracking apps.
Pick the one that is best suited to your work, whether you are goal-oriented, or if you pay your employees by the hour. Learning about how much time it takes to complete a task while also seeing how much time your employee spends to wrap a project up can help you set realistic expectations.
Diversify your collaboration
Certain tools are designed to serve a very specific purpose, such as real-time chats, video conferences, or entire project management platforms such as Basecamp that give you the means to keep an eye on everything happening on a given project.
If you’re only relying on email communication, your relationship with your remote workers will most likely remain superficial. In order to inspire loyalty and understand what motivates them the most, diversify the tools you use to collaborate.
Utilize vehicle tracking
Not all remote workers are the same. While the traditional digital nomad sits at their laptop focused on the task ahead, there are other employees who may be local, but work remotely, such as those using company vehicles. Whether you’re in the delivery or distribution business, having a workforce on the move means you need to make sure they are as efficient as your office staff.
In essence, using gps tracking for your fleet serves a much more complex purpose than merely knowing the physical location of your drivers. In fact, modern-day tracking software allows you to see the most time and cost-efficient routes, change your driving schedule based on any road obstructions, or create perfect vehicle maintenance schedules.
Encourage an inclusive culture
Your relationship with your remote team truly is essential, but how your local team embraces the remote employees also affects the overall culture and atmosphere. This should, by no means, be an excuse to involve remote staff in meetings that are in no way related to their work – but do invite them to regular meetings and conferences where they can contribute and be informed.
Also, it’s commendable that you wish to stay in touch with your remote crew, but encourage your local team to do the same. Give them the time and means to communicate with their remote teammates, and organize team building sessions whenever possible.
Offer education and training
Just like your local employees strive to move forward with their careers, hopefully, under the wings of a company that appreciates them, your remote workers will want the same benefit. It’s not all about getting a raise or some other form of monetary incentive, but it’s about enabling them to perfect their skills and master new ones.
If possible, you can set up online workshops, invite them to relevant seminars or conferences, or simply talk to them and see if you can invest in a particular course. Their improved abilities will help your business, and in turn, they’ll build a much stronger bond with you.
Finally, if your office staff knows you’re generous and if you organize regular office parties, provide gift cards for a job well done, give your staff an extra day off after a tough work week, bring treats for employees’ birthdays, or celebrate anniversaries of their commitment to your company, why not do the same for your remote team?
Appreciation should have nothing to do with geography. After all, a bit of incentive will only help you motivate your remote employees and make them feel even more included as a vital part of your business.
Every business is different, so in addition to the aforementioned tips, make sure to keep getting to know your remote team. That will help you devise even more strategies to increase productivity and inspire an even stronger relationship with them.
David Webb is a Sydney-based business consultant and an online marketing analyst and a senior editor at Bizzmarkblog.com.